Article | Review of International Political Economy | June 2013

The Profits of Power: Commerce and Realpolitik in Eurasia

by Rawi Abdelal


Although the energy trade is the single most important element of nearly all European countries' relations with Russia, Europe has been divided by both worldview and practice. Why, in the face of the common challenge of dependence on imported Russian gas, have national reactions to such vulnerability varied so dramatically across the continent? And why have a handful of French, German, and Italian corporations somehow taken responsibility for formulating the energy strategy–and thus the Russia policy–for essentially all of Europe? The resolutions of these two puzzles are, I show, interlinked; they also demand theoretical innovation. With several case studies–of Gazprom's decision making during the 2006 and 2009 gas crises and of the response of western and central Europe to their gas dependence–I find that firms are driving these political outcomes; those firms are motivated by profits but employ sociological conventions along their ways; and firms generally seek the necessary inter-firm, cross-border cooperation that will deliver corporate performance. Finally, I conclude that the field will ultimately require a framework that puts firms at its center.

Keywords: Performance; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Globalized Firms and Management; Profit; Framework; Corporate Strategy; Innovation and Invention; Policy; Decision Choices and Conditions; Crisis Management; Government and Politics; Energy Industry; Europe; Russia; France; Germany; Italy;


Abdelal, Rawi. "The Profits of Power: Commerce and Realpolitik in Eurasia." Review of International Political Economy 20, no. 3 (June 2013): 421–456.